It’s a busy time for home canning. Many people are hard at work getting produce from the garden canned before the first frost. USU Extension can provide research-based information and safe recipes to help the home canner.
Around this time of year, I answer a lot of calls and emails about canning. A common question I am asked is about when to use a water bath method vs. pressure canning. Especially for a new person to canning, it can be confusing as to which method of canning should be used.
The first thing to understand is that there are two different approved ways to process foods. Water bath canning is used for jams, jellies, fruits and pickled products. The other kind of canning is pressure canning, which requires a specialized piece of equipment called a pressure canner. It is important to use the pressure canning method when processing low acid foods like green beans and meat.
Let’s take a look at the two kinds of processing. Boiling water canning is done in a large pot with a lid and a rack on the bottom. Canning jars are completely immersed in boiling water for an amount of time specified in the canning recipe. A water bath can only heat the food to the temperature of boiling water.
A pressure canner is a heavy-duty piece of equipment with a vent and a pressure gauge or weight. Only two to three inches of water are used. Pressure canning is able to heat the food in the jars to a hotter temperature than the boiling water method. A pressure canner is different from a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are smaller and should not be used in canning. A dial pressure gauge should be checked each year prior to canning. USU Extension provides this service free of charge.
Now that you know the different kinds of canning, the second thing to understand is which foods can be safely processed by each method. Here’s the basic rule: All low acid (alkaline foods) must be processed in a pressure canner. What does that mean? Any non-pickled vegetable, including vegetable soup stocks and all animal products cannot be safely processed in a boiling water bath. You need a pressure canner for them. The reason for that is that botulism spores can survive the temperature of boiling water.
All acidic foods such as fruits, pickled vegetables, jams and jellies can be boiling water canned. Tomatoes can be processed with the water bath method, but it is important to add acidity (lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid). However, people tend to under process tomatoes. For our altitude quarts of hot crushed tomatoes with no added liquid should be processed for 55 minutes. Half or whole tomatoes have a longer processing times. Tomatoes can be pressure canned as well.
You may have noticed something called a steam canner being sold at stores. Steam canners are not recommended because processing times for use with current models have not been adequately researched. Because steam canners do not heat foods in the same manner as boiling-water canners, their use with boiling-water process times may result in spoilage. If you do choose to use a steam canner, only use this method for high acid foods.
There are many tested, safe recipes as well as detailed instructions and information available at http://extension.usu.edu/tooele/.
To learn how to boiling water can and/or pressure can, join us for hands-on workshops. Boiling water canning will be held Thursday, Sept. 26 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Cost is $6. The pressure canning workshop will be held Thursday, Sept. 26 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Save money when you take both classes; the fee is $10. If you register online, register for both classes and pay $12. You will receive $2 refund at class. Participants will take home a freshly canned jar of food, recipes and other resources.
Please prepay and register at: https://boilingwatercanwksp.eventbrite.com/ and/or https://usupressurecanningwksp.eventbrite.com/.
You can also register at USU Extension 151 N. Main, in the Tooele County Health Building, which is the first office on the right Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you register online there is an additional $1.32 credit card charge. Questions? Call or text Darlene Christensen at 435-840-4404 or call Dana Cooper at 435-882-4554.